I'm not much of a graphic novel fan. To be honest, I've only read Watchmen and I found that to be lackluster. Recently, though, I came across a piece by Tom McCarthy, author of Remainder, one of my favorite books of all time, and he listed a bunch of books about nothing. The Castafiore Emerald was one of them and the only one I wanted to read that was in the library system.
The Castafiore Emerald is one of a series of graphic novels/comics Herge published in the sixties known as The Adventures of Tintin. This was the 21st of 24 comics so the characters are all pretty well established and no introduction is given as to who they are.
Nonetheless, it was pretty easy to follow. Tintin is a young lad who lives with Captain Haddock who is apparently a retired sea captain who has become somewhat wealthy. Professor Calculus, a hard of hearing inventor, also lives with them in addition to a butler.
The story begins with Tintin and Haddock stumbling across a band of gypsies at a garbage dump. Haddock invites the gypsies to stay on his land. Upon returning home, the pair discover that an acquaintance of theirs, the opera singer Bianca Castafiore, is going to visit and stay with them, much to Haddock's chagrin.
Castafiore brings her accompanist and assistant with her as well as an assortment of jewels. While there, the house is swarmed with reporters and television crews. We're given little glimpses of various people and when Castafiore's emerald vanishes, a mystery unfolds.
It refolds then unfolds then refolds then unfolds again. The jewel is lost and found and lost and found again. The gypsies are suspected as well as people in the house and one of the reporters. It never really takes on the feel of a mystery, though, mostly because everything is so slapdash. There are all sorts of linguistic entertainments going on (Haddock's alliterative cursing, Castafiore never getting Haddock's name right, the policemen Thompson and Thomson who tend to wix up mords, I mean mix up words). There is a broken step in the hallway that everyone trips on and that Haddock tries to get repaired to no avail. There's a talking dog and a noisy parrot.
I really wouldn't say there's nothing going on. There's a lot. Does it have any meaning? Not really. It's a comic for crying out loud. But to say nothing happens is certainly wrong.
I really liked it. It made me laugh several times. I knocked the 62 pages out during a break at work. I could see myself giving another one of these a shot someday. A very fun change of pace for me.